Different English Proficiency Tests Types For International Students

11 minutes reading time (2159 words)

Are you planning to study abroad? Then, you are most likely to be aware that fulfilling English language proficiency criteria is an essential component of your admission prerequisites. This criterion also holds true when applying for your student visa. English language proficiency exams offer non-native English speakers the opportunity to engage in studies in countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and other nations where English is the primary language. An English language test plays a pivotal role in enhancing your comprehension, reading, and writing abilities in the language. It also equips you to seamlessly apply both written and spoken English once you relocate to your preferred study destination.

Do you know that the IELTS test is the most famous English proficiency test that is accepted for admission to most universities and colleges abroad?

For students aspiring to undertake international studies, attempting an English language test and obtaining an acceptable score is obligatory in most cases to ensure the acceptance of your university applications. Additionally, certain universities stress a minimum score requirement based on the specifications of the desired course. You can read the blog completely to learn in detail about the popular English proficiency tests, including the TOEFL English test,PTE test, Cambridge English test, Duolingo English test, etc.

What Are English Proficiency Tests and Why Are They Important?

English proficiency tests play a crucial role for international students aiming to pursue their education in countries where English is the primary language. These tests assess your ability to understand, speak, read, and write in English. They hold significant importance as they serve as a measure of your English language skills, ensuring that you can actively participate in classes, comprehend course materials, and effectively communicate with professors and fellow students. Essentially, these tests act as a bridge, connecting students from diverse linguistic backgrounds to academic opportunities in countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada. By demonstrating language proficiency through these tests, you can open doors to better experiences and successful academic lives in foreign countries. The TOEFL test, IELTS, PTE, OET, etc., are a few popular English proficiency tests chosen by international students.

Benefits of Taking an English Proficiency Test

Contrary to popular belief, an English proficiency test is essential not only for admission to universities abroad. In a few cases, you will need a satisfactory English proficiency test score for your job and visa purposes. A few benefits of taking an English proficiency test are given below.

  • Better chances of getting admission: Demonstrating your language skills strengthens university applications, increasing the chances of acceptance.
  • Academic success: English proficiency ensures understanding lectures, engaging in discussions, and completing assignments effectively.
  • Confidence boost: The ability to navigate real-life situations using English improves your overall confidence.
  • Time and cost savings: A good score may eliminate the need for extra language classes, saving time and money.
  • Employability: Strong communication skills make you a better option for employers.
  • Cultural immersion: English proficiency facilitates engaging with local culture and making friends.
  • Global networking: English proficiency enables connections with peers from various backgrounds.
  • Personal growth: Mastering English opens doors to personal development and new experiences.
  • Travel opportunities: English proficiency extends beyond academics, making travel and exploration smoother.
  • Preparation for the future: Strong language skills lay a foundation for further studies or work abroad.

In essence, an English proficiency test opens doors to academic, personal, and professional growth for international students studying abroad.

Requirements and Expectations of Different Institutions

Different institutions, like universities or colleges, have their own rules about English proficiency tests for international students. These requirements show how well you should know English before studying there. Some universities might need higher test scores for more advanced programs, like Medicine or Engineering. It is important to check the specific requirements of each institution you are interested in, as they can vary a lot. These tests are usually there to make sure you can keep up with the classes and do well in your studies. So, before you apply, take time to understand what scores you need and how they might differ based on what you want to study. There can also be differences based on your level of study, course, university, country, etc. As such, it is advisable to refer to the official websites of the universities to get updated information.

Most Popular English Proficiency Tests for International Students

For international students, there are several widely recognised English proficiency tests that universities and colleges often accept. The most popular ones include


  • TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language): This test measures your ability to d use English in academic settings. It is widely accepted in North America and many other countries.
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System): IELTS assesses your English skills in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It is accepted in many English-speaking countries.

    PTE (Pearson Test of English): This test evaluates your English communication skills and is accepted by universities in the USA, Australia, Canada, and more.

    Cambridge English Language Assessment Tests: These include exams like C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency, which are widely recognised in Europe and other parts of the world.

    Duolingo: Duolingo is an innovative language proficiency test used by some institutions to assess English skills.

  • OET (Occupational English Test): It is d for healthcare professionals aiming to work or study in English-speaking healthcare environment.

TOEFL: Test Of English as a Foreign Language

The TOEFL test, which stands for the Test Of English as a Foreign Language, is a widely recognised assessment of English language proficiency. It measures your ability to understand and use English in academic settings, making it an essential tool for international students aspiring to study in English-speaking countries. TOEFL evaluates your skills in reading, listening, speaking, and writing in English, providing universities and colleges with insights into your language capabilities. Recognised by institutions worldwide, a good TOEFL score opens doors to educational opportunities and helps ensure success in coursework and communication throughout your academic journey.

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

IELTS, or International English Language Testing System, is a globally accepted assessment of English proficiency. It tests your competence in listening, reading, writing, and speaking in English, thus testing your skills in communication in academic and real-life contexts. Widely recognised by universities and immigration authorities, IELTS scores play a pivotal role in facilitating educational pursuits and immigration processes. Whether you are an international student seeking admission to universities or an individual aiming to relocate, a strong IELTS score opens pathways to success by proving your language skills in English-speaking environments.

PTE: Pearson Test of English

PTE, or Pearson Test of English, is a reputable English language proficiency test. It evaluates your speaking, listening, reading, and writing abilities in English, offering a comprehensive overview of your English communication skills. Recognised by various academic institutions and immigration authorities, a good PTE score is important for international students and immigrants. PTE's computerised format ensures quick results, making it a convenient option for applicants. With its global recognition and focus on real-life language usage, a good PTE score makes it easier for you to get admission to universities and colleges in English-speaking countries.

Duolingo English test

The Duolingo English Test is an innovative assessment tool that measures English language proficiency. It evaluates reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in an online format, offering flexibility and convenience. Recognised by various educational institutions, it has gained popularity due to its accessibility and quick results. The test adapts to your performance, tailoring questions based on your answers. With its user-friendly interface and broad acceptance, the Duolingo English Test proves to be a good option for international students and applicants, enabling them to demonstrate their language abilities effectively for academic and professional needs.

OET: Occupational English Test

The Occupational English Test (OET) is a specialised assessment designed for healthcare professionals aspiring to work or study in English-speaking healthcare environments. It focuses on evaluating language skills specific to medical settings, including listening, reading, writing, and speaking. OET's relevance to healthcare scenarios makes it an essential one for nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals. Recognised by regulatory healthcare bodies and institutions, a good OET score ensures effective communication within the healthcare sector, enhancing career opportunities and facilitating better interaction with English-speaking healthcare communities

Cambridge English Language Assessment Tests

Cambridge English Language Assessment Tests encompass a range of examinations, including C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency, offering an evaluation of English language proficiency. These assessments are widely recognised across the globe, particularly in Europe, as they measure your skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Achieving high scores on these tests demonstrates advanced language competence helps you in your academic and professional pursuits.

Test Of English for International Communication (TOEIC)

The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) is a widely recognised exam for international students. It measures your English language skills in listening and reading. It helps universities and employers know how well you understand English in real-life situations. TOEIC scores can open doors to study abroad opportunities and better jobs. Preparing for TOEIC involves practising English conversations and reading various texts. Doing well on TOEIC shows that you can communicate effectively in English, making it a valuable step towards your global journey.

How to Choose the Right English Proficiency Test for Your Needs?

As you already know, there are several English proficiency tests you can attempt, and you might already have a vague idea of their details. Now that you know the names of all these tests, you might be confused about which English proficiency test to take. As such, we have given a few criteria you can look for to choose the right English proficiency test for you.

  1. Accessibility
  2. Difficulty level
  3. Scoring accuracy
  4. Retakes and validity
  5. Result

Differences in Format, Content, and Scoring of the Tests

English proficiency tests like TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE have varying formats, content, and scoring. TOEFL focuses on academic English, measuring reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. IELTS assesses real-life English in academic and general contexts, with listening, reading, writing, and speaking sections. TOEIC mainly tests workplace communication, covering listening and reading. There are differences in the scoring too. TOEFL and IELTS have bands or scores, while TOEIC provides separate scores for listening and reading. Choosing a test depends on your goals, like studying or working abroad. Research each test to understand its format, content, and scoring, and pick the one that fits your needs best.

Availability, Cost and Validity of the Tests

When considering English proficiency tests like TOEFL, IELTS, or TOEIC, it is important for international students to think about availability, cost, and validity. These tests are usually offered at various locations and times, so you can choose one that suits your schedule. Costs can vary, so it is good to check and budget accordingly. The validity of the test scores is also crucial. Some test scores are valid for two years, while others might have different durations. Keep these factors in mind while picking the test that aligns with your plans and timeline.

Tips and Resources to Prepare for the Tests

If you are planning to attempt an English proficiency test, it will be helpful for you to get a few tips and resources to prepare for English proficiency tests. As such, we have listed a few tips for your reference.

  1. Start by practising regularly. 
  2. Use official practice materials from the test makers. 
  3. Join English-speaking clubs or find language exchange partners to practice speaking.
  4. Take practice tests under exam conditions. 
  5. Review your mistakes to improve.

We hope that you have gathered at least a rough idea about the different English proficiency test types for international students. If you have any further questions or queries and need clarity on anything, you can contact AECC. Our expert counsellors can give you FREE in-person assistance and help you apply to universities to fulfil your dream to study abroad.


  • What are the levels of English proficiency tests?

 According to the CEFR scale, there are six levels of English language proficiency. They are A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2.

  • Which is the most widely accepted English proficiency test?

 IELTS is the most widely accepted English proficiency test, followed by TOEFL and PTE.

  • Which is the easiest English proficiency test?

Each English proficiency test has its own rules and formats. Thus, it is not possible to classify a few as easy and others as difficult.

  • Which is better, IELTS or PTE?

 Both IELTS and PTE are popular English proficiency tests. However, IELTS enjoys better acceptability and recognition compared to PTE.

  • Is PTE harder than TOEFL?

 It cannot be said that PTE is harder than TOEFL. Both tests have different formats and rules.

  • Is PTE or Duolingo easier?

Duolingo is considered easier compared to PTE with its small focus areas and MCQs.

  • Which is harder, PTE or IELTS?

 Both PTE and IELTS are supposed to have equal levels of difficulty. As such, it is not easy to classify one as easy and the other as difficult.

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